Some typical items taken from a small selection of the Collection

1. Six Songs  for Democracy

From an album released by Keynote Recordings in 1940, these Spanish Civil War songs are some of the best and most popular songs of the 11th International Brigade. Lyrics by Berthold Brecht, Erich Weinert and KarlErnst amongst others; composers include Hanns Eisler and Peter Daniel. The Peat Bog Soldiers, written by an unnamed prisoner in the Borgermoor Concentration camp in 1933, is present; the song became an anthem for the International Brigade.

Words only.


2. For the People’s Use.

Words by Randall Swingler. Music by the WMA 1937 Composers’ Group.

Unison song with piano accompaniment.


3. Work Songs

From the repertoire of the Almanac Singers of the U.S.A. Arranged by Bob Miller.

Published by the WMA in 1942 this songsheet contains 3 songs – The Belt Line Girl; Round and Round; The Butcher and the Baker – from the Almanac Singers which during the period 1940 to 1943 included Wood Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Sis Cunningham.

Words and music.


4. A Song for Health in Britain

A collection of 12 songs submitted as entries to a competition run in 1988 as part of a campaign to protect the NHS against cuts brought in by a Conservative government – plus ca change!  The competition was organised by Peggy Seeger and Trish Carn.

Photocopies of entries; some include music, some indicate a tune, often traditional.


5. Songs for Scottish National Liberation

A collection of 35 songs published in the early 1980s by Scottish Liberation, which took as a slogan “Victory to the Scottish Resistance! Forward to National Liberation!” Includes favourites such as A Parcel of Rogues, The Freedom Come All Ye and The John Maclean March, as well as lesser known songs including The Rebel Heart of Scottish Resistance and The Scottish Republic.

Words only.


6. Britain’s Part

Words and music by Alan Bush. Chorus parts only.

Published by the WMA in 1942, Britain’s Part is a diatribe against appeasement and a call for international solidarity in the face of the rise of fascism.

Words and music.

[PSC /1/2/2/52]

7. The Right to Vote An’ A’ That : a Hundred Years of Scottish Women Singing

Collated and edited by Penny Stone.

A collection of 33 songs covering all aspects of the women’s movement from Bella Ciao to Mrs Barbour’s Army and The Lament of the Working Class Hero’s Wife.

Words and music.


8. A Question of Numbers

By Leon Rosselson.

Lyrics of a 30 verse song on typescript pages attached to a letter to Norman Buchan from Leon Rosselson in which he describes the song as “a topical sort of ballad”. The song is a powerful diatribe against the anti-immigration policies of both Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher. The song was recorded on Rosselson’s 1981 LP For the Good of the Nation.

Words only.


9. Unite and be Free : for the Peoples of India and Britain

Words and music by Alan Bush.

Unison song with piano accompaniment

Published by the WMA in 1941, Unite and Be Free is an anti-colonialist song of internationalist solidarity, as the lyrics – such as “Workers and peasants, at home and oversea, / Down with all frontiers / Unite, / Unite and be free” -  make very clear!

Words and music.


10. Cut, Cut, Cut

[To the tune of Tramp, Tramp. Tramp]

An example from the many handwritten or typescript sheets carrying song lyrics, saved by Janey Buchan over many years, sometimes with annotations by her (in this case “no idea whose song this is”). This a campaign song, which like many others, takes a well known tune to which is added often scathing, scabrous lyrics; the song begins “Cut, cut, cut, screams Maggie Thatcher, / Cut, cut, cut, cry all her men;/ Public spending must be slashed / And the local councils bashed / So we’ll cut and cut and cut their cash again.” For Thatcher perhaps now read Cameron?

Words only.


11. Socialist Sunday School Song Book

Compiled by the National Council of British Socialist Sunday School Unions, 1957.

The Song Book (one of 3 copies of varying content and publication dates present in the JBPSC) contains the words of 116 songs, including The Banner of Freedom and Toilers of the Nations, and even “alternative” Christmas carols such as I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Socialist Sunday Schools were set up as an alternative to Christian Sunday Schools, because socialists felt that they needed something more appropriate for their children – a more organised and systematic method of presenting principles of socialism to children and young people. The first such school was established by Mary Grant in 1892, and by 1912 there were approximately 200 Socialist Sunday Schools across the U.K.